For First-Year Students

Welcome to Harvard!

Your fiirst year at Harvard is a time for you to explore. Although you do not need to know your exact concentration during this first year, now is the time to gain a solid foundation that will allow you to specialize in subsequent years.

We recommend that you take a look at the Life Sciences Advising Booklet (right) to learn about the life sciences concentrations and recommended courses. Pages 1-5 have information specifically for first-year students.

Here are some other things you might find helpful:

Courses and placement exams:  If you are considering concentrating in the Life Sciences, you should take the online Chemistry and Biology placement exams during the summer before your first year.  General information about placement exams can be found on the Placement Exams website.

Students interested in the life sciences typically start with a set of interdisciplinary, foundational courses.  Visit the Courses page for more information about Life Sciences 1a, Life and Physical Sciences A, and Life Sciences 1b.  Another option for students with a very strong high school science background would be Life Sciences 50, which is a double course that integrates biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Additional courses for first-year stduents with an emphasis on the life sciences include:

  • Freshman seminars – Each year, a number of faculty from the life sciences offer freshman seminars.
  • Expository writing – Some Expos classes have a focus on the life science.

Advising:  Your first-year academic adviser is a great resource for helping you navigate your first year at Harvard.  For more specific questions about course selection and concentrations in the life sciences, feel free to talk with any of the life sciences advisors.  The life sciences advisors are happy to talk with you about your interests, regardless of whether you only have vague ideas about what you would like to study or whether you have more concrete plans.

Research: Some students get involved with research during their freshman year, while others wait until their sophomore or junior year.  If you would like to begin exploring research opportunities, visit the research pages of this website and talk with Director of Science Education, Dr. Logan McCarty.

Additional Resources of Interest: The Advising Programs Office (APO) has information about all of the concentrations at Harvard.